Your neck certainly has a great deal of responsibility each day. From supporting the head to containing the spinal cord and nerves as they emerge from the skull. The spine is made of 33 individual bones stacked one on top of the other. The spinal column (Neck and Spine) provides the main support for your body, allowing you to stand upright, bend, and twist while protecting the spinal cord from injury. Strong muscles and bones, flexible tendons and ligaments, and sensitive nerves contribute to a healthy spine. Yet, any of these structures affected by strain, injury, or disease can cause pain.
Common injuries to the neck and spine often occur in the cervical and lumbar areas of the spine. Symptoms associated with cervical spine injuries are neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, numbness and or weakness in the arm or hand. The most common symptoms associated with the lumbar spine are the lower back pain, leg pain, hip pain, numbness and or weakness in the leg or foot. Injuries include degenerative disc disease, Whiplash, Herniated Discs, and lower back pain.
Osteoarthritis of the spine is a breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the neck and lower back. Sometimes, osteoarthritis produces spurs that put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal column.
- A thorough examination which includes diagnostic procedures such as X-ray, MRI.
Whiplash, also called neck sprain or neck strain, is an injury to the neck. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints (located between vertebrae), discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged. Whiplash is caused by an abrupt backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head, often as a result of a car accident or hard blow from an impact or sports collision.
Symptoms of whiplash may be delayed for 24 hours or more after the initial trauma and include at least one of the following:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
- Low back pain
- Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Sleep disturbances
- In most cases, injuries to the soft tissues such as the discs, muscles and ligaments cannot be seen on standard X-rays.
- A thorough examination including an MRI.
- In the past, whiplash injuries were often treated with immobilization in a cervical collar. However, the current trend is to encourage early movement instead of immobilization.
The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine in your back are cushioned by small, spongy discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when a disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc. It may also be called a slipped or ruptured disc. Lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting movements often cause a herniated disc.
- Numbness, tingling or weakness that goes down leg or arm
- Back or neck pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing, walking, or sitting
- Back or neck pain that comes and goes
- Significant pain that extends from the back or neck into the arm or leg
- A thorough examination such as range of motions tests, palpation, strength and sensation tests, nerve function and reflex assessment, X-rays, an MRI, a CT scan, bone scan, and bone density test in order to determine proper non-operative or operative treatment.